It is one of the major stories of the 2022 Qatar World Cup that Australia have made their way through to the round of 16 after coming second in a group containing France, Tunisia and Denmark. Many people assumed Australia would finish at the bottom of that group, but instead they qualified in second.

At this stage, everything is a bonus for Australia and getting knocked out in the next round would not stop the tournament from being a major success. That is just as well, as they are coming up against Argentina.

While they may not have been scintillating in the group stage, Argentina are still one of the major favourites to win the whole tournament. Australia were easily beaten 4-1 by France in their Group D opener, but a 1-0 win over Tunisia kept the dream alive. They then beat a disappointing Denmark side 1-0 to go through as one of the best-performing group runners-up.

Here at 90min, we’re going to take a look at which five players Australia will be relying upon to cause a major upset in the round of 16.

Mathew Ryan

Mathew Ryan will be facing some quality players against Argentina / Stuart Franklin/GettyImages

The Australia goalkeeper has been impressive for the Socceroos so far in the group stage and if ever there is a game where he could summon his best-ever display, it is this one. The 30-year-old did not get too much game time for Real Sociedad and has since moved to FC Copenhagen, but he did get 28 clean sheets in the Premier League for Brighton in 124 games.

He is one of those goalkeepers who has the ability to produce a herculean performance every now and then. His team may really need that against Argentina and it could make for an epic spectacle.

Harry Souttar

Harry Souttar is attracting Premier League attention / Stuart Franklin/GettyImages

If Mathew Ryan is going to need the game of his life to keep the likes of Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Julian Alvarez out, the same can be said for Stoke centre-back Harry Souttar.

He has been a rock at the back for Australia in the group stages and will need to be even better in the round of 16. The fact that Australia shipped four against France will be a worry, but lessons may well have been learned.

Seeing as Souttar has been so impressive and only recently turned 24 years old, he could be set to earn a big move off the back of this tournament.

Mikkel Damsgaard, Jackson Irvine

Jackson Irvine spent a long time playing in Scotland / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

St Pauli midfielder Jackson Irvine has been one of the key players for the Australians at the World Cup so far. His creativity and desire in midfield has lifted those around him and he looks to be one of the major leaders in the dressing room.

He has got over 50 appearances for the national team now and while he is yet to contribute a goal or assist, he will be tasked with keeping everyone disciplined and concentrated in the middle for Australia against Argentina.

Mathew Leckie

Mathew Leckie sent Australia through with a well-taken goal / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

Possibly the biggest name in the Australia squad, it was Mathew Leckie who sent his team into the round of 16. The 31-year-old has over 75 Australia appearances to his name and has spent most of his career playing in Germany.

He grabbed a goal and an assist in the group stage and he is the most likely player to score for the Socceroos against Argentina. You’d think that one big chance will come to Leckie, and he could be very well placed to take it.


Craig Goodwin netted the first Australia goal of the tournament / FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

The World Cup can often reward confidence and momentum more than outright quality, and that could be what makes Craig Goodwin so important. He scored the opening goal against France and the 30-year-old recently became Adelaide United’s all-time leading goalscorer as he netted his 45th goal for the team.

He is in a good moment in his career and it would be the crowning moment if he could help his team produce one of the major upsets of World Cup history by beating Argentina.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *